Essential Fall Maintenance for Your Outer Banks Vacation Rental Home

OBX vacation rental home fall maintenance puppy in leaves

Fall, in my humble opinion, is the best time of year in the Outer Banks.  I advise all vacation rental property owners to take advantage of the delightful fall season and schedule a visit before winter arrives.  My recommendation is to combine business with pleasure and take care of needed seasonal maintenance on your Outer Banks vacation rental home at the same time as any of our great fall festivals are scheduled.

Fall maintenance for Outer Banks vacation property owners will vary depending on if the home is rented as a winter rental, empty for winter or winterized for winter.  While there are some items you may want to have your Property Management Company or handyman perform, there are many others that are simple to do yourself.  At the same time, take notice of any changes since spring for items that had some extra wear and tear and may require updating or replacing before the next rental season.

Many guests staying at your vacation home will not report items to be repaired to the Property Management Company.  It is always a good idea for the owner to do a complete check of the property in the fall and spring.  This periodic overview also allows the owner to monitor the property for wear and tear from season to season and plan for updates and improvements.  Staying on top of your investment will improve the bottom line of your vacation rental home and prevent any surprise repairs.

Clean Gutters & Check Roof

The Outer Banks can get some dramatic ‘noreaster storms over winter and you will want to make sure your gutters are free of any leaves and debris.  Clogged gutters can back up and create water leaks into your home.  Flush out the downspouts to make sure they are free of debris.  A hose or pressure washer can be used to quickly remove the debris inside the downspout.  You will want to schedule this for when most or all of the leaves have fallen from nearby trees.  Downspouts should extend 6’ away from the home to make sure it drains clear from the foundation.

While you are cleaning the gutters, examine the roof for any damaged shingles and flashing.  Check the chimney for any cracks or damage and apply roofing cement (in caulking tubes) to any cracks. 

Alternatively, to get a good view of the roof area, hire a licensed and insured drone pilot to take video of the roof.  Keep a copy of the video with your insurance records.

Tree Maintenance

Examine your trees and identify branches or trees that are over reaching their bounds.  A branch hanging over the roof, or dropping nuts onto the roof surface, will wear the shingles faster and a storm could cause the branch to break a window or damage the roof.  Trimming the tree back is less expensive than having to make repairs to the home. 

Also, walk your property and check for trees with dead branches, holes in the trunk, strange growths or webs.  All of these are signs of disease or a dying tree and an arborist should be consulted to save or prune the tree before any further damage can occur.


Even if you are turning off the HVAC unit for the winter and winterizing the home, it is best to have a tune-up performed on the unit by a professional to include inspection, servicing, and cleaning.  Replace air filters regularly.  This should be done monthly for optimal performance.

Windows & Doors

Check all the windows and doors to make sure they seal and lock properly.  Apply new caulking or weather stripping as needed.  This will help to extend the life of your HVAC units and save utility costs. 

Exterior Siding & Deck

Examine the siding and decking around your home for mold, algae and insect web or debris.  A good pressure wash now, will minimize the amount of growth and simplify getting your home ready for the summer season.

Make sure you check the deck for any loose or rotten boards and secure or replace them. Make sure you check the railings and the stairs to make sure they are solid.

Cleaning the exterior of the home will let you spot areas in need of paint or caulking.  Taking care of them now will prevent them from getting worse over the winter.

Plumbing & Water Heater

Fall is a good time to check all the plumbing in the home for any leaks in sink faucets and toilets.  Check the condition of grout for tiled areas and clean, re-seal if required. Secure all toilets to make sure they are not becoming loose.

Check around the hot water heater for any leaks or rust on the unit.  Now is a good time to drain the water heater to remove sediment buildup in the tank.  Draining and flushing the water heater will keeping it working at peak efficiency. 

Attic & Crawl Space

Check the attic for any signs of moisture on the underside of the sheathing to detect any potential leaks early.  Look around for any signs of pests (termites, carpenter ants, mice etc) and call a pest control professional should you discover evidence of any critters.

Grill & Deck Furniture

Store your grill and deck furniture over the winter to keep it in better condition.  Make sure to clean it and allow it to dry before moving it to a covered location.  If you don’t have a covered location, then covering the items can help to protect them.  Covered items should allow some air circulation to prevent mildew conditions.

Clean Dryer Vents

Lint build up in dryer vents is one of the leading causes of house fires.  Yearly cleaning of your dryer vent will keep your dryer running more efficiently and help it to last longer.

Smart Home Tech

There are many devices available to help you monitor your vacation home from a distance.  From HVAC control, cameras, water detection, Carbon Monoxide detector and smoke alarms.  Installing any of these devices will provide peace of mind and can save money on utilities or reduce potential damage in the event of a leak. 

Consider installing select devices and making sure all existing devices are working and have new batteries, where required.

Winterize or Heat

Many vacation rental home owners decide to winterize their property for the off season.  This allows them to turn off the heat and water and save utility costs.  However, the owner will incur the cost to winterize and de-winterize the property which reduces any potential savings.  In addition, a separate cost is typically required to winterize/de-winterize hot tub and pool and any landscaping sprinkler system.  The property can’t be used in the off-season without de-winterizing the home.

The Outer Banks typically does not have severe winters.  We do tend to have windy conditions and temperatures do occasionally get below freezing.  Many vacation property owners prefer to set the heat at 50 to 60 degrees to keep the pipes from freezing rather than winterizing the home.  The advantage is the home owner or other guest can stay in the home over the course of the off season.

Drain garden hoses and store inside.  Turn off outdoor water, close outer water values and flush to remove any water left that can freeze and break the pipes.

The Real Estate professionals at Eillu want you to get the most value and pleasure from your real estate investment.  We hope you stop by and say “hi” when visiting the area.  We are here for you for the long term should you have any real estate questions.  For us, real estate is not just buying and selling but staying connected in between with all of life’s milestones.  Stay up to date with Outer Banks and subscribe to our blog

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